THOMAS/Republicans should change their logo
“Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.”
– Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush during a 2016 debate with Trump.
After watching too many of the Republican non-debates and the insults each of the candidates (and former candidates) have thrown at each other, along with the especially demeaning characterizations by Donald Trump of his rivals, it’s time for a dose of reality. For the sake of accuracy and truth the Republican Party should exchange its elephant symbol for one that is more reflective of today’s GOP.
One candidate might be Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Consider some of the puppet’s best insult lines as you imagine them being directed at a Republican presidential candidate. To an overweight man, Triumph said: “Are you a separatist? ... Maybe you should try separating yourself from donuts first.”
Addressing a French person who spoke no English, Triumph said: “Pardon me, I only know your basic French expressions like ‘I surrender.’”
Speaking to singer Bon Jovi, Triumph said: “So you’re acting now, you’re in a vampire movie, yes? That’s good. Finally, a role that requires you to suck.”
The difference between these comedic taunts, as well as those by the late comics Don Rickles and Rodney Dangerfield and the political insults, is that with the comedians people were usually in on the joke. While sometimes sounding caustic, the comical barbs are meant to produce laughter. Even the targets of the jokes often laughed. That’s different from repeatedly calling your political rival a liar.
Where is the noble rhetoric from campaigns and presidencies past? Why the constant putdowns? Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Iran’s ayatollahs don’t get smeared as much as the presidential candidates who revile each other. We’ve regressed from the schoolyard to the barnyard.
John F. Kennedy had some good lines, including:“We can no longer afford to be second best. I want people all over the world to look to the United States again, to feel that we're on the move, to feel that our high noon is in the future.” And the well-known one from his 1961 Inaugural Address: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Ronald Reagan always saw America as“a shining city on a hill” whose best days are ahead of us. When Reagan spoke of his political opponents, he often referred to them as “our friends in the other party.” During a 1984 debate with Walter Mondale, Reagan joked that“ I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Mondale laughed, seeming to acknowledge the cleverness of the barb. His campaign manager, Bob Beckel, later told me, “Right then we knew we were going to lose the election” because the issue of Reagan’s age (he was 74 at the time) had been laid to rest with that one line.
Here are a few more among many others: “ If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. -- John Quincy Adams.
This from Franklin Roosevelt would be a good one for modern presidential candidates to embrace: “If you treat people right they will treat you right … ninety percent of the time.”
President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Reagan liked the saying enough to have it on his desk.
In modern politics, debating the best way to make America better has been replaced by a war footing. It’s DEFCON 1. Sadly, insults and anger seem to appeal to some voters. The price we are paying for tolerating this behavior is a diminished politics, which can only lead to a diminished and further divided country.
Email Cal Thomas at email@example.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “A Watchman in the Night: What I've Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America" (HumanixBooks).